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Austin Peay Governors Football’s Devin Stark leads talented receiving corps

 

APSU Sports: Austin Peay Football

Austin Peay State University GovernorsClarksville, TN – On the surface it seems Devin Stark’s abilities at wide receiver are more appreciated on the national and regional levels than they are within his own conference.

Stark recently was named preseason second-team All-American by the FCS Senior Bowl. Earlier this summer, Stark was named to the College Football Performance Watch List at wide receiver as well. However, Stark’s name was not on either the 2011 All-Ohio Valley Conference team or the league’s 2012 preseason team.

Austin Peay Football. (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)

Austin Peay Football. (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)

A year ago, Stark was on the receiving end of 53 catches for 627 yards and seven TDs. The receptions and TDs were the most by a Governors wide out since the 2006 season. He was able to accomplish those statistics despite starting quarterback Jake Ryan missing nearly three games. Stark had 14 catches combined against APSU’s two FBS opponents, Cincinnati and Memphis, in 2011.

Stark is the one constant in the APSU passing attack at the X-receiver spots. It’s those other near-alphabet-end wide receiver spots that must evolve in 2012 to take pressure off Stark, the 6-3 Memphis native.

“Devin is a crucial part of our offense,” APSU coach Rick Christophel said. “He makes plays and when he does, it takes a lot of pressure off your running game.

“He has improved so much since he was a freshman. I think he is one of the best receivers in this league; I know I wouldn’t trade him.”

At the inside receiver position (W)-replacing the departed Scott Thomas-the Governors return Terrence Oliver, who had 15 catches a year ago. In the spring, APSU moved Robert Lemon inside to better take advantage of his skills. After catching 12 passes in 2010, Lemon had just four a year ago.

Fellow senior Tyler Clendenen also returns to that position. Redshirt freshman Tremond Robinson, who missed 2011 with a torn Achilles tendon, is attempting to bounce back from that serious injury. Freshman signee Brett Pippin will challenge to move up the depth chart.

It is the Z-receiver position the Governors are hoping-need- to receive more consistent production in 2012. Again it’s a pair of sophomores, Jamaar Embry and Darryl Clack, who are the central figures at the position. The two combined for just 17 receptions a year ago. However, both Embry and Clack had TD catches.

At 6-6, Clack not only has the size but deep speed as evidenced by his 72-yard TD catch and run versus Tennessee State last year. His performance level has increased during the fall. His impressive fade-route TD catch in the first scrimmage was evidence.

The 6-2 Embry, a local product, doesn’t have the size of Clack, but he too has deep speed and has shown the ability to make acrobatic plays.

“Both are just sophomores and they have to keep improving,” Christophel said. “I thought Darryl had one of his best scrimmages since has been here.  He took over and made plays.

“But Jamaar has made plays too. We are developing depth at all our wide receiver positions.”

Behind Clack and Embry are senior Lavendor Jeffreys as well as speedy Memphis freshman Ladarius Chatman.

Behind Stark is sophomore Hunter Branch, who gained experience a year ago, as well as redshirt freshmen Michael Woodard, Justin Adams-Turner and freshman Mikhail Creech.

Is it coincidence that Creech is wearing No. 19, one number above Stark?

“When you see Mikhail Creech you think of Devon when he was a freshman,” Christophel said. “I really like all our three freshmen. I think between the freshmen group of receivers last year combined with this year, our receiving corps should be in good hands the next few years.”


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